They needed to escape Shadow-fy. That much was clear inside Amy’s head, despite the other fears that caught at her brain and demanded their full share of her attention. Bernard was taking his bid for indelfy ‘freedom’ too far, and Amy had no intention of sticking around long enough to help with it. She’d gotten enough to give Schreber, she had verbally refused to help Bernard, wasn’t that enough?
Rat squeaked, and the alarm in his voice made her stop. There was someone waiting for them in her quarters. Someone, or something. Chills ran down her spine as Rat squirmed in her pocket as if torn between running away and staying to help her. She ran her hands soothingly along his coat, and edged close enough to her space to get a candle from her stash. The wick lit easily from the coals in the furnace, and its dim light revealed Schreber, relaxing in the comfort of her quarters.
“Good morning,” he whispered to her. There was something resting in his lap, and when she leaned in closer, she saw a half-eaten ermine laying in his lap.
Bile rose in her throat at the sight. She shoved Rat deep into her pocket and sealed the top shut so he could not see what she knew would give him nightmares for days.
“Is it morning?” she said, trying to keep her voice calm. It took all of her courage to bend down as if nothing were out of the ordinary, to reach for the limp little body, and to pick it up by the unchewed portion of its neck. The rich white coat had just a hint of snow on it, as if he had caught and killed it just before coming in.
The snow was so close to her face she could feel the tiny crystals catch in her whiskers. She took the heavy drifts in stride, scampering over places where heavier animals would have sunk right through. Now and then the rich, musky scent of a hare slashed across her path like a siren’s call, but she paid them no mind. her thoughts were on the sticky blood that dotted her most current trail.
This is a dream, she told herself. She could feel, in an odd way, her body still leaning casually against the frame that held the curtains up, the soft, lush fur against her hand. Her tattoo was beginning to tingle. Soon it would burn the vision out of her head.
The sun beat down on the clearing, the heat softening the snow, making the footing treacherous. The scent of the blood was still fresh though, the prey could not be far.
There was a way to snap herself out of the dream, but she couldn’t remember how to do it.
She tried to make herself run a little faster, but her feet were numb from cold, and her side was beginning to hurt. She paused to lick it, and discovered the blood she was chasing, was her own.
She choked back a scream, the burn of candle wax on her fingers saving her from the rest of the terrible dream. She turned away for a minute, letting the hot air blasting from the furnace warm her before climbing to her feet. Funny, she didn’t remember falling, was Rat ok?